Monday, 5 May 2014

Pompeii (2014)

A Volcano erupting. In the foreground and a man and a woman are embracing. In the centre of the poster the tagline: No Warning. No Escape
Bastille song not included

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

The fact that nobody has brought the story of Pompeii to life as a film is a puzzling thought. The potential is there to bring to life a story of the doomed city, it's just a shame that the director of the Resident Evil films got there first.

The fact that a total of three different screenwriters were hired to work on the script is astounding, due to how inept they seem to be at getting the simplest of things right. The only female character who seems to get anything of importance to do is Emily Browning's Cassia, who is relegated to the tired labels of damsel in distress and obligatory love interest in favour of the men showing off their muscles.

The bromance between Milo and Atticus is meant to be a pairing to match many of the buddy duos who have previously been seen onscreen, but it cannot help but feel rushed, as the two Gladiators go from hostility to brothers in arms over the course of a single day. The main romance seems to have a lot to thank the horses for, as the basis of it seems to be Milo being able to break ones neck and successfully ride another, but neither of the friendship nor the romance is helped by the clunky dialogue.

Jon Snow was far from Westeros

Anderson tries to instil a sense of foreboding towards the final fate of the citizens of Pompeii, but the cuts to the volcano and the dropped hints instead come off as heavy handed, while the political machinations are little more than a dull plot device to bring the antagonists into the titular city. The action would be worth praising, if it weren't for the distractingly choppy direction or the fact that they feel rather tame, especially when memories are evoked due to the similarities with the Spartacus: Blood and Sand TV Series. Thank goodness for the acting, which is competent enough to liven things up, especially whenever Keifer Sutherland appears to chew the scenery.

Pompeii is a confounding film, to say the least, due to the script being handled by 3 different writers and still turning out poor, and the action being directed by somebody who's spent 20 years in the business, but feels like the work of a wet behind the ears amateur. Thank goodness for the acting, which may not be anything remarkable, but managed to pretty much save the film from being one of the years worst.

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